Culture Lab

June, 2020
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The Participatory
Action Research

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9th April 2021No Comments

The Intergenerational City Patrol podcast

Intergenerational Urban Patrol is a performative group of Warsaw residents who have come together to use artistic language to address the current social and political situation in Warsaw, Poland and the world. Common practices of mindfulness, improvisation, experiences, workshops with experts in the process of regular meetings led the collective to create a 4-episode podcast about a city as extraordinary as never before and as extraordinary as always.

The Intergenerational City Patrol podcast is the result of a 2-month online workshop during Pandemic (in the months of March to May 2020). It is written by members and writers of the Intergenerational Urban Patrol.

Trailer of the podcast below (audio recorded in polish):

Full podcast accessible via: Anchor, Spotify, YouTube.

16th February 2021No Comments

“We wanted to talk about manhood – we became friends” – online live performance

Couple of guys, more or less known to each other, but mainly unknown, formed a group - man circle. To talk about masculinity - what is it? Is it an essential category? We were a bit jealous of women because we knew they had already worked those topics out and they know what they want indeed and who they are. And we are a mile behind.
We started to talk to each other. We shared food, we gave each other safety. We talked about growing up, school, relations with parents. About abuse, dreams and sex. About being a boy and a guy in Poland. We created this space of intimate exchange, support, tenderness and vulnerability. Our performance shows where this group process took us. It is made from our words, touch and being together. We share our stories. We talk about what happened between us during this year.
“We wanted to talk about manhood - we became friends” is an innovative theatrical-performative project in which a group of men creates play about the experience of being a man. It is based on collective meetings and sharing personal stories of childhood, growing up and adulthood.
In our work we treat manhood as an intellectual concept which we deconstruct and reconfigure anew. We look at anxiety, violence, abuse, sense of community, sexuality and their connections to our diverse experience of masculinity. We consider the impact on modern men of traditional patriarchal and often toxic forms as well as of new versions of masculinity: open and adaptable which doesn’t require to be alfamale and gives total freedom in becoming who one wants to be. Our performance was collectively directed by three persons which is a good example of cooperation in opposition to extreme individualism so common in polish theatre which is a direct result of patriarchal values.

We enclose trailer:

creators // t w ó r c y _ c z y n i e:
THE BOYS PERFORMATIVE GROUP / Grupa Performatywna Chłopaki:
Rafał Aleksin
Robert Bigus
Kamil Błoch
Tomek Gromadka
Tomek J. Krynicki
Wojtek Mejor
Paweł Ogrodzki
Grzesiek Ryczywolski
Mateusz Wądrzyk
Marcel Bird-Wieteska
Julian Zubek
guest starring // z gościnnym udziałem:
Karolina Micuła
media and technical support // multimedia i obsługa techniczna:
Tomasz MakGajwer Grabowski
costumes // konsultacja kostiumograficzna:
Monika Skomra
music and sound // muzyka i dźwięki:
Aleksandra Badurska
Przemek Pstrongowski

16th February 2021No Comments


Once upon a time, in the fall of 2019, in a world without a coronavirus, I wanted to make a performance about hope. At that time, it seemed that this idea was necessary, of course, because the world is not good, but not burdened with any dramatically current context.
Of course, back then, political and economic balance was also a luxury of a few places in the world. Junk contracts already existed and have not lost popularity. As a confirmed fact, the climate crisis had already penetrated into the collective consciousness (although more than half of those informed did not believe it). At that time, ideological conflict seemed to be a notorious condition for the Polish public sphere.
And yet, back then, in the fall of 2019, we were living in relative stability.
Even if it was a crisis one, it was relatively knowledgeable.
A show about hope - what a great idea! After all, we need it at every moment of our life, at every stage of it. I liked the lightness and specific naivety of this concept. I had an inner conviction that the time for social art to bring positive perspectives was coming. That it is worth creating positive possibilities by creating experiences (yes, experiences, not just things to watch and intellectual perception) that will give an energy boost. Towards change, towards light, even to start believing in some better versions of the world.
The idea came up at the invitation of the New Epiphanies Festival, which chose the apocalypse as the theme of 2021. It was in the context of apocalypse that hope was formed as a necessary topic, the necessary quality to survive, to go on. At that time, we did not know yet that the apocalypse would come closer, update and gain new names before the performance.
2020 needs no introduction, nor is it worth creating apocalyptic rankings.
And so it is known who, or actually what, will take first place.
In addition to the coronavirus epidemic, however, there are also other obstinate competitors in this race.
Local and global crises, conflicts, splits.
The economic crisis and deepening inequalities.
Political polarization. The return of tough tools of governance. Cities torn by screams of protests that seem to change nothing when it comes to the ruthless mode of limiting rights, e.g. reproductive rights. The crisis of school and public education, the helplessness of many sectors of the economy faced with the sanitary regime. Isolation and loneliness. Healthcare failure.
My hand trembles as I type letters on the keyboard that form this dark procession of phenomena that want to devour us or at least throw us into the depths of depression.
Anyway, depression was harvesting a ghastly heavy harvest without a pandemic.
Is it really necessary to write about it?
Do we have to repeat the infinite mantra of sorrow and demons of the present day?
Why dive into the dark?
Rebecca Solnit in her inspirational essay - which for hope-seekers is, if not a Bible, at least a handbook - argues that there is no hope without confronting hopelessness. Darkness is the state of the world. We are immersed in it, or at least we take regular baths in it. To each and every one of us, every community, every generation.
Denial, the seductive charm of positive thinking, or even the most effective mindfulness does not change that. Acceptance, or rather awareness, is important. Admit it is so. Naming the abutments of darkness. Or accepting that we can't even name them.
Only then can you start looking for light. Where?
Solnit suggests at least a careful look back. Fishing from the dark family, local, global, political and social history stories of people and groups who managed to introduce change, create an alternative, new qualities.
Never without cost, never as a whole, but often in a way that previously seemed impossible.
"You will never walk alone" - this slogan in the context of Solnit's essay acquires a new dimension - intergenerational, historical sisterhood and brotherhood. In the fight for more equal, full of justice and friendly places in this world, none of us is and will not be a lonely island or a pioneer. Of course, none of us was, is and will not be the messiah.
There is no salvation in this world and even the sometimes enthusiastic narrative of Solnit does not try to convince us to do so. But more than once there have been sparks, flashes and fires, where we could warm ourselves.
And if it was so, it can also be today.
Darkness is also the periphery. Areas and initiatives devoid of public interest, not covered by the attention of the masses. Small, side activities, backstage of the public sphere.
Often change begins on the fringes of large institutions, mainstream debates and global politics, and hope is born.
If it is able to penetrate the center, find a tributary to the mainstream, and change the course of a river - then a revolution takes place.
It's good to read Rebecca Solnit, but that doesn't make the darkness of a low-rise January afternoon disappear.
Well, we are animals and also, unfortunately, capable of analysis.
Batteries run out easily.
Unsatisfied needs overwhelm us and deprive us of our strength.
No touch, limited contacts.
For some of us, there is no job.
The unbearably protracted Blue Monday.
Personal, social and political hope seems to be rapidly getting the fuck out on this January evening, although it was not them that we shouted to in October, November and December in front of the parliament, the senate, and the bishop's curia.
Is it really worth making a performance about hope?
Additionally, along with all the changes taking place in the course of 2020, the possibilities of theater have changed as well.
Some of them just disappeared or shrunk dramatically.
Looking at the shells of old theatrical practices, our team found that it is not worth trying to revive what is faint.
You have to look for new forms. Ask about the possibility of a performative experience through technology. Don't be offended by the internet, don't whimper about the lack of live energy. Not to deny what is, what happens, but also not to pretend that loss doesn't hurt.
We started experimenting with zoom and multi-channel transmission.
Check what will happen if we create specific scenes, situations, performative actions in terms of frames, video. What if we start mixing and editing them live, at the same time formulating instructions for viewers, playing with their perception, taking into account their context - the fact that they are at home in their residential scenography. Among dogs, children, bookshelves, unwashed dishes and favorite pictures on the walls.
Finally, we decided not to pretend we knew what hope was.
Do not give monologues about it.
Do not write poetic texts and brilliant dialogues between characters.
Not to create beautiful images that emanate hope.
We decided to draw the consequences of the intuitively planned title in 2019: LABORATORY OF THE SOURCES OF HOPE.
If it is to be a laboratory, let the search process begin - also for us, the creators.
With uncertainty, question marks and need of answers or at least searching effort.
I invited 30 people to work. Artists, activists, educators, dancers, poets, masseuses, but also theater and artistic amateurs. We opened our laboratory following a sincere and desperate need - to find hope for ourselves. To live, to act, to get up from bed. In our everyday lives, in our duties, in our job losses, worries with children, falling in love and partings, credit loans and the impossibility of receiving them, in political lack of hope, pissed off with power, fear for the country. In what happens.
So we have been looking since December.
Without pretending to already know something.
We look where we are initially able to find any spark, anything with a luminous quality.
In the body, in conversations, in dance, in activist and political tools (oh yes, we know that without them there will be no change). We search in motion, in nature, in childhood memories, in food, smells, in contact with animals, in observing children.
We cherish every flare that appears, every stream of light.
We know that we need it very much.
We are not afraid to admit that we are in the dark.
The great and small apocalypses are real.
But the joint search, the very act of establishing a laboratory,
discovering the sources already gives hope.
We will share it.
March 20 and 21.
The spring solstice is a fact.
These are the days when light is always finally getting more.


Dorota Ogrodzka - from the Stowarzyszenie Pedagogów Teatru

26th January 2021No Comments

Online Performance ‘Lessons of Resistance’

April 2019. Polish teachers start a nationwide strike. Those who join the strike break the school system to a half. The society is divided. On one hand we have gestures of solidarity (supporting teachers in various ways) on the other - against acts of hostility (hate in social media). Teachers demand not only higher wages. The strike also stands for common values like dignity and demands the structural changes to the educational system.
Unfortunately, negotiations with the right-wing government fail. Support for the strike decreases among the society.
June. Summer break. The protest is suspended. Strike issues fade away. With the Covid-pandemia and the first lockdown the problems of the education system lose significance and fall into the background.
At this moment the Laboratory of Social Theater, a part of the Association of Social Pedagogues, starts working on a new performance about the strike - Lessons of Resistance.
We work using our own school memories and simultaneously collect teacher’s strike stories and transform them into pieces of art.
Scenario gets ready. The performance takes place in a former school building - located in the Center of Warsaw - the whole area is our stage.
Three weeks left to premiere.
November. The government bans all live public performances.
What should we do? Brainstorm. Decisions. Let’s do it on Zoom platform.
None of us know how. We do it for the first time. Euforia, trust, cooperation, compassion blends with doubts.
Time goes by. Common lunches and quick walks with the dog between rehearsals. Gimbals. Gigabytes. Strike banners. Promotion tools. Dec. the 15th 2020, day of the premiere. Final recordings and last scenography production.
Please wait till the host will let you in.
More than a hundred participants join us in each of the three days of performing Lessons of Resistance. Audience listens to a story of the strike for over an hour and half, and stays with us way longer to share experiences after. Some teachers say: thanks for this sign of solidarity, we’ve been waiting for this kind of support. We are the school. We all.
The performance Lessons of Resistance was live transmitted on zoom platform. It has been screened in more than three hundred home computers, laptops or other electronic devices.

22nd May 20206 Comments

Body of Solidarity

Body of Solidarity


I’ve got many heads,
they connect like threads
/\what-they-know/ \experiences/\ ideas
to build something to call

And it all starts from what’s under my feet
Respecting and safeguarding
by reducing, reusing and recycling
                |—————> The space I’m in

                                       Open and Welcoming
No matter the lines /i/n/b/e/t/w/e/e/n/

My hands share skills
To actively change what’s wrong
- even if it’s the norm ! -
They are the brainstorm
bringing t
angible effects
grass-roots movements transforming utopia into fact
They know learning requires failing,
but it’s worth
If collaborating replaces prevailing.
It’s not just about an economic growth
the future that both
are shaping.

Here comes my voice
An inspiring spoken word
For social justice
It has the right to be heard
As much as to be anonymous

A fearless beating for equality
Rise up from the heart
Big enough
to hold
my vibrant diversity:
my best quality.

Body of Solidarity
in your humanity
so alive, so true

I’ll take care of you



That’s what came out yesterday night when I envisioned solidarity in a (not-only) European sphere.
Not as concrete as I wished, but the spirit is there.

How do I contribute to create this Body of Solidarity and embody this vision?

On one hand, through the constant practice of environmental and political activism in my life.
Keeping myself in an on-going learning process, as a citizen, a consumer, a human being.
Participating in producing a ripple effect of good practices/activities/initiatives
for a more sustainable, inclusive and less individualistic society.

On the other hand, through the recently born S.O.M.A.M.A association.
The acronym stands for Sustainable Organisation Mobilising Awareness Through the Medium of Art
and i believe it gives an idea of what we aim to do.
We want to address current social issues using interdisciplinary art,
engaging with local communities and fostering participatory action.
We want to do our part, in a creative way.


As a cultural ngo, we are moving our first steps;
so Culture Lab Europe represents a great opportunity
to learn from the initiatives and the practices of others.
I look forward to sharing our experiences and
supporting each other.



["We are illegal immigrants of the world / Lovers of anything that can be loved"
Photo of street art at the entrance of La Polveriera Spazio Comune, an occupied self-managed social centre in Florence. It is part of MeP, a non-party political and social movement for the creation and dissemination of contemporary poetry]


20th May 20202 Comments

Merdi and Culture for Solidarity

It has already been three months since the world shut down and our lives with it, after a routine where we meet at least 10 people a day, we have come to live within the four walls of our apartments, and consider ourselves lucky enough if we live with family or other people.

The silver lining of this epidemic comparing it to previous ones is that we have means to communicate and share, we have tools that allow us to build solidarity and spread it. In Europe, Solidarity has always been undoubtedly present between both its member states and people whether in values or objectives and in order to strengthen such a thing, I believe there are two essential tools to do so, and they are Media and Culture.

I can contribute to that using the previously mentioned tools which are Media and Culture.
Through media, it is essential to let people aware of what's happening instead of making them live in doubt and fear; it is the job of all media platforms to be honest and direct and to fight fake news that may break solidarity between people.

As for culture, it is very essential when it comes to showing people that solidarity is a duty towards anyone in the world, no matter where they come from, what they look like, what they worship...

The spread of culture helps people build different interests and put themselves into the process of creation that helps a lot of other people. It is what helps us accept and love each other because it plays on the psychology of getting used to 'DIFFERENT' and that's what leads to tolerance and acceptance! LET'S MAKE CULTURE CONTAGIOUS!

I would love to contribute with the students by making series of videos and informing people around us that it's okay to feel however they are feeling and that it is more than requested to share!